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Referees to don Indigenous jersey for First Nations Round

The NSWRL will celebrate First Nations Round in 2024 with a specially-designed, indigenous-themed jersey that will be worn by match officials in all NSWRL Major Competitions this round (4-7 July).

The NSWRL’s First Nations Round coincides with NAIDOC Week (7-14 July), which is held in July every year to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The NSWRL has always had a strong connection to First Nations people and they make an enormous contribution to our game every season,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.

“There are currently more than 28,000 First Nations people involved with Rugby League in NSW as players, coaches, trainers, referees or volunteers.

“First Nations players have provided plenty of highlights for fans across all formats of the game, from grassroots to the elite level, and I am sure that will continue into the future.

“I encourage all Rugby League stakeholders to embrace First Nations Round this week and pay your respects.”

The jersey was designed by NSWRL Community Football Referees Development Officer and former NRL referee Gavin Badger, based on the artwork of First Nations artist Daren Dunn.

The jersey will be worn by officials in all NSWRL Major Competitions this round including The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, Jersey Flegg Cup, Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield.

Dunn has also painted two pairs of football boots that are on display at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence to commemorate First Nations Round.

First Nations people are represented in the NSWRL Referees High Performance Team, with Billy Greatbatch (pictured above) being part of the squad since 2018. He will officiate the Round 14 Sydney Shield game between Cabramatta Two Blues and Moorebank Rams at Kellyville Park on Saturday (6 July).

“Having an input into the first Indigenous referees’ jerseys for NSWRL referees to be worn in the NSWRL’s First Nations Round is something that I take pride in," Badger said.

“This jersey has been a couple of years in the making and I thank the NSWRL for the continual support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at all levels of Rugby League, whether it be as a player, referee, coach, spectator or volunteer.

“The NSWRL has been, and always will be, a great breeding ground of success for our First Nations people.”

Dunn created a unique piece of artwork for the NSWRL in 2022 titled ‘Walaaybaa’ or ‘Home Country’, which features on a wall at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence.

It reflects the connection between the NSWRL and First Nations culture and is alive with culture, people and activities, with footballs, clap sticks, boomerangs and coolamons appearing across the landscape.

Dunn also created a map of traditional First Nations of NSW which also features on one of the office walls at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence.

Clubs can help celebrate First Nations Round by:

- an Acknowledgment of Country before the main game;

- a Welcome to Country involving local elders or Aboriginal Land Council before the main game;

- a Smoking Ceremony involving local elders before the main game;

- a moment of silence for the Stolen Generation before the main game;

- having traditional dancers before the main game;

- an Acknowledgment of Country in the program;

- referencing the name of the traditional country you are on in the Acknowledgment of Country;

- inviting local Land Council and Elders to the game.

The participation numbers from the First Nations community involved in Rugby League around the state are also strong with a combined total of 28,933 for players, coaches, trainers, referees or volunteers.

The NSWRL has strong long-term community partnerships with KARI Foundation and Deadly Choices.

Click here to learn more about the NSWRL’s First Nations partners and programs.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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